About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Tag: negativity

Unshakable beliefs


Recently I came across a “Something to think about” question in an old issue of O magazine that made me want to sit down and answer it … “Which of your beliefs are unshakable? In the space below, write the fundamental principles you live by.”

Such an interesting question. I was raised in a fundamentalist environment chock-full of “unshakable beliefs,” virtually none of which I subscribe to at this point in my life. I’ve changed my mind so many times that there isn’t a lot that I like to say I’m absolutely sure of. But I suppose there are a few things …

  • Love is stronger than hate.
  • Karma is for real, and there are no exceptions.
  • Doing the right thing as best I know how is the key to a peaceful mind.
  • Justice does prevail, though it may not be anything like immediate.
  • I live in a benevolent Universe.
  • I chose to be here.
  • I am here to learn.
  • Life is difficult, and also beautiful.
  • I prefer the truth to anything else.
  • Change is constant–you might as well welcome it.
  • Positivity beats negativity.
  • Ego is incompatible with enlightenment.
  • Meditation–preferably twice a day–is essential to my living my best life.
  • Healing is worth the effort.
  • Kindness matters.

How would you answer this question … what are your unshakable beliefs?

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card The Lover, the last of the cards I made at the archetypes retreat I attended last month.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.


The most important lesson


As I mentally prepared for an interview this week, I asked myself a practice question I’ve never actually been asked, but that I may ask in interviews myself now that I’ve thought of it–What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in the course of your career?

I knew right away that for me there were two lessons–It doesn’t have to be perfect, and I don’t have to be right. (The second lesson I’ve written about before, so it’s the first one I’m focusing on today.)

This first lesson began fairly early, and benefitted my personal life as well as my professional one.

In the mid-90s I worked for a small public company that made computer hardware components. My priorities could and often did change on a daily basis, depending on the orders that came in.

Most orders couldn’t ship without documentation, which was my responsibility, so booking revenue was directly tied to what I produced. The engineers also revised the hardware frequently, which required me in turn to revise the documentation.

I grew up watching one of my parents conduct endless research before making a move. Deadlines were met rarely to never. I found this tremendously frustrating to watch (especially since there was a clear relationship between deadlines being met and money to put food on the table), but found myself repeating the approach, to a much lesser extent.

This job completely broke me of those bad habits. It was clear to me that time was of the essence, and what I was working toward one day could easily change the next. There was no time to be wasted on hand-wringing, and plenty of inherited problems to solve. What I really needed to do was make tangible progress toward a goal every single day.

I had distinct tendencies toward perfectionism, but I saw that I had multiple opportunities to work on nearly every document. My goal became not to make anything perfect–a clearly unachievable goal given the time constraints–but to make everything accurate, and better and/or more cost-effective than it was before. Incremental improvement rather than perfection.

I’d already noticed, as I made significant strides toward dropping baggage, releasing bitterness, and becoming more positive, that I really picked up speed at work. An early manager had noted that my work could be more “expeditious.” And she was right–I spent a lot of time at that job being upset rather than working.

It turns out that eliminating mental–or audible!–moaning really saves a lot of time. What I do these days is simply dive right in to the work.

Occasionally, various delays and obstructions prevent me from doing that. At those times, the (unbidden!) mental image I have of myself is a racing thoroughbred confined to a paddock. All I want is for the starting gates to open so I can run out onto the track and open it up–flying like the wind, doing what I know how to do.

What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned, as it relates to your career?

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, Thoroughbred racer + True north.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

How not to judge


A couple of experiences yesterday clearly reminded me how little I like being judged. You know how when you’re on a diet, you start noticing foods that are unnecessarily caloric? I think it may be similar when you’ve released a lot of negativity and judgment … when you run into it, it really starts to stand out in stark relief. It makes you uncomfortable, and it’s clear that it has no value or really, useful purpose.

I was on my way to a friend’s alumni association crawfish boil, stopped at a light, when a woman gestured to me to roll down my window. Generally when people do this, it’s to convey some kind of useful or at least well-intentioned information, like that one of my tires is low.

This time was a bit different. Based on my bumper stickers (“Hope, not fear”) left from the 2008 election cycle, she inquired about my support for the President, and then yelled, “I just wanted to see what stupid looked like!” She then closed her window quite promptly, clearly uninterested in (or perhaps afraid of) my thoughts on her thoughts. I shook my head and muttered to myself that I hadn’t wanted to see what ignorant looked like.

When I arrived at the event, even before I could park my car, I immediately noticed great enthusiasm for wearing the school colors of purple and gold. My friend hadn’t said anything about this, but since purple is one of my favorite colors, I happened to be wearing purple shoes, eyeshadow, lipgloss, and (known only to myself–and now you!) purple underwear. This, it turned out, was insufficient, and others at the table (also alumni of other schools, but unlike me, forewarned) let me know of their superiority in wearing the school colors. Ah, joy.

In the back of my mind for probably months now, I’ve been thinking about how I want to renew my own commitment to eliminating judgment from my life. These experiences were catalysts in helping me decide that the time to do that is now.

I grew up in a family and a church that absolutely prized judgment of others. Though my family read the Bible through each year, Jesus’s words “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7:1) seemed to register with no one. I remember puzzling over them, trying to imagine what that meant, how that would work.

I became really interested in releasing judgment from my life about 7 years ago when I read Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention (published in 2004). He mentions briefly the work of the late Dr. David R. Hawkins, who measured various vibrations, such as those of documents, books, people, and so on. Dr Hawkins’ work indicated that higher vibrations are very powerful, and that one person vibrating at a higher level can balance the negativity of many lower-vibrating people. I found this idea quite exciting, but there was just one problem. I knew I didn’t meet the criteria for the first level. This is what I read …

    • One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of optimism and a willingness to be nonjudgmental of others will counterbalance the negativity of  90,000 individuals who calibrate at the lower weakening levels [which basically consist of fear and lack of integrity].
    • One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of pure love and reverence for all of life will counterbalance the negativity of 750,000 individuals who calibrate at the lower weakening levels.
    • One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of illumination, bliss, and infinite peace will counterbalance the negativity of 10 million people who calibrate at the lower weakening levels (approximately 22 such sages are alive today).
    • One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of grace, pure spirit beyond the body, in a world of nonduality or complete oneness, will counterbalance the negativity of 70 million people who calibrate at the lower weakening levels (approximately 10 such sages are alive today).

Here are two compelling statistics offered by Dr. Hawkins in his 29-year study of the hidden determinants of human behavior:

    1. One single avatar living at the highest level of consciousness in this period of history to whom the title Lord is appropriate, such as Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha, and Lord Jesus Christ, would counterbalance the collective negativity of all of mankind in today’s world.
    2. The negativity of the entire human population would self-destruct were it not for the counteracting effects of these higher energy fields.

As I read this, I felt I was doing fairly well on the optimism front, but I knew very well I wasn’t nonjudgmental. But I was willing to try.

I started writing in my journal every day my intention to be willing to be in non-judgment of others. I found that this really made a profound difference in my life.

I really love the “willing” part of this statement, by the way. It seems to open up a space where–just like thoughts during meditation–judgment may come up, and then you can meet it with the willingness to release it and be in non-judgment. And as with thoughts during meditation, with practice, judgments become much less frequent.

In my view, releasing judgment doesn’t mean that you’re not aware of what’s really happening … that you don’t understand it, that you don’t know when you’re dealing with someone who’s as trustworthy as a rattlesnake. My interpretation of non-judgment is that you do notice all of these things, and act accordingly–you just don’t feel the need to judge them. Two common responses of mine when judgment comes up is, “We’re all doing our best” (which is so often true) and “No one asked me to judge.” This is also quite true. No one with any moral authority has invited me to judge anyone else–nor will they.

Now I want to take this practice to the next level. I’m not sure yet exactly how I’m going to do that, but I’ve decided that when judgment comes up, I’m going to reiterate my intention then and there …

I want to be willing to be in non-judgment of others.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, Willingness to be in non-judgment + personal Witness. This could probably also be considered a Waterbearer card. The water and water jug are meant to represent the life-giving nature of creating a higher vibration.

Experiments with intention

I believe that with our intentions, we can change the world and our own lives for the better.

I believe this because I’ve proved it to myself by experimenting.

It all started when I got my car (a 2006 model, so that was the approximate year), and it came with XM radio, where I started listening to Oprah’s Soul Series. I also bought and read a number of books written by the people she was interviewing on the series.

Consequently I was reading a lot about the law of attraction, and I decided to try it. I’d sit on the sofa before work and spend 15 or 20 minutes with my journal.

First I would write, as mentioned in Esther Hicks‘s books, “I am in my Creative Workshop.” This phrase acknowledges that each of us has the power to be a creator of our own experiences.

Then I would express appreciation for all that’s good in my life by writing down five or more things I felt thankful for–big or small, it doesn’t matter. Genuine appreciation and gratitude are what’s important.

Then I’d write down intentions for my day and my life. I’d think about where I was experiencing dissatisfaction, and write intentions that would improve my situation.

I began to notice that doing this really worked.

The very first thing I remember noticing a change in was the bird chorus outside my door as I did this practice. I was writing in my journal early in the morning, and one of the things I was grateful for was the beautiful birdsong I was hearing. There wasn’t much at first, a few twitters and trills, but as I kept noticing it each morning, it really intensified. I don’t know if more birds showed up, or if the ones I already had sang louder and longer, but it was really something! Just as all the books said, I got more of what I was noticing and paying attention to.

One of the intentions I set that continues to affect my life was to be willing to be in non-judgment of others. (If you want to change your life, this is a great way to do it.) I found that as I set this intention each day, I began following through on it, and dropping my judgments of others. I began saying to myself when I felt judgment come up, “We’re all doing our best.” Or, “No one asked you to judge.”

I could see how I could impact my own life, and I began to wonder, what about something bigger, something that involves many more people than just me and the people I know. Could I change that?

For many years, I commuted to work about 45 miles each way. My manager at the time was fairly inflexible about the hours we worked, so I had to drive during rush hour. I really wanted to drive to work in smoothly-flowing traffic as I was used to doing, but it seemed like an impossible goal. I decided to ask anyway.

I began writing down my intention to drive to work in smoothly-flowing traffic each morning in my journal. I did this for several weeks.

One day at work, one of my coworkers who’d seemed to be nursing a grudge against me and who also had a long commute from a similar location, stopped by and told me about a shortcut through the airport that I never knew existed. She had the air of someone getting something off her chest. I asked for a few details, thanked her, and promptly tried it the next morning.

Well … guess what? The shortcut took me around the worst of the traffic. When I drove to work using this shortcut, I found myself driving, most of the time, in smoothly-flowing traffic. Just as I’d intended.

Wow … I was impressed. A really helpful solution to a problem I thought couldn’t be solved, that definitely improved the quality of my life.

What I learned was, just ask. Don’t worry about how intractable a problem seems, just ask for a solution.

I stopped journaling every morning years later when I had a boss who made me show up to work even earlier. But I still use the journal technique when a significant issue arises.

Last week, someone at work whom I’ll call Bob reared his head again. Bob has a medium-important title, a real facility for regressing to childhood in the blink of an eye, and quite a mean streak. Fear and intimidation seem to be his preferred ways of getting things done.

So last Wednesday on a conference call, when I was right and Bob was wrong, he spoke to me with a degree of contempt that was notable to everyone present. I received multiple apologies afterward–none of them from Bob.

My manager is well aware of the problem and is working to address it. Bob has already had one person in his group get disgusted with the way he was being treated and quit. One of his more highly-skilled people, I might add. Bob has also been asked to apologize to someone who sits near me whom he’d spoken to nastily–I overheard that apology. His MO seems to be that when he knows his team has made a serious mistake, he becomes proactively nasty to those he thinks might draw attention to it. Like I say, he operates out of fear.

I’ve done much of what I can to address the problem in the realm of work, but I don’t like to sit on my hands, I like to call in the big guns. I decided it was time to write some good old-fashioned intentions in my journal.

It is my intention that Bob treat me and those I work for with absolute and complete respect. It is my intention that we be able to do our jobs freely, correctly, and well, without interference from Bob or anyone else.

It is my intention that any negative techniques Bob is using and any ethical lapses he has made come to the full and immediate attention of his superiors, and that they take swift action to correct these problems completely.

I also ask that any karmic consequences due to Bob arrive in a timely way.

On Friday we received a remarkably polite e-mail from Bob. When I investigated I found that someone on our team had made an error, and I responded with a solution. Now that is the kind of interaction I’m looking for.

I know how mercurial Bob is, and I don’t think we’re out of the woods just yet. But I have every reason to believe that setting intentions works. At times like this, it’s very good to know that it’s completely possible, no matter who you are and no matter how much power the world says you have or don’t have, to tap into the power of the Universe to get things done, solve problems, and see justice done. A power–need I say–far greater than Bob’s. And a technique far better than fear and intimidation.

And so my latest experiment begins. I reiterate my intentions, and wait for a solution to arrive.

%d bloggers like this: